Partners HealthCare launches five-year $100M digital health initiative

Boston-based Partners HealthCare—now known as Mass General Brigham—plans to spend more than $100 million on a five-year initiative to boost digital innovation and improve the patient experience.

The digital health initiative announced on Thursday supports the health system's recently announced five-year strategic plan and rebranding effort, Partners HealthCare executives said in a press release.

The health system—the largest in Massachusetts—announced Nov. 27 a rebrand to more closely align the system with the brands of its "world-renowned academic medical centers": Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

The digital health initiative will build on Partners’ foundational investments in data, technology, and analytics and expand digital care projects to advance patient reach, impact and outcomes in a transformational way, health system officials said.

Project leaders will focus on making healthcare more convenient and accessible to patients through digital tools, such as giving patients the ability to book appointments online, communicate with care providers 24/7 via video and text, and providing online access to their medical records through OpenNotes.

Partners Healthcare also aims to allow consumers to get cost estimates for procedures and diagnostic imaging and aggregate their medical records for Partners and non-Partners health care sites.

RELATED: Mount Sinai, Hasso Plattner Institute launch new $15M digital health center

Consumers also will be able to see wait times for all Partners emergency departments and urgent care centers.

"We need to make health care easier for our patients," Gregg Meyer, M.D., chief clinical officer at Partners HealthCare said.

“Our patients want health care to operate like every other sector of our economy, and this initiative will help us to engage patients and ensure that they are getting the attention they need, when they need it. By leveraging data and technology, we can ensure that wherever patients are in our system, they can benefit from the expertise of our clinicians and access world-class care," Meyer said in a statement.

The Boston Globe reported that Partners has budgeted $100 million for the first 18 months of the project, according to Alistair Erskine, M.D., chief digital health officer at Partners. 

Erskine said his team will seek more funding as needed.

RELATED: Novant Health launches Institute of Innovation & Artificial Intelligence

It is the latest of several big digital health investments as health systems and academic medical centers make big investments in the future of artificial intelligence and data analytics to transform healthcare.

Mount Sinai Health System is teaming up with the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany to launch a new $15 million digital health center based at Mount Sinai in New York City with the aim of accelerating the use of AI and other emerging technologies in clinical care.  

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai also plans to open an approximately $100 million research center focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and precision medicine in Manhattan in late 2021.

Novant Health in North Carolina launched the Novant Health Institute of Innovation & Artificial Intelligence this year to use AI to enhance personalized patient care.

RELATED: Partners HealthCare announces rebrand along with 5-year strategic plan

At Partners HealthCare, another area focus will be to incubate innovative digital health programs under development to expand programs that show provider adoption and patient impact. 

“This initiative will fuel early-stage projects, provide the resources to test those projects and then, more importantly, provide a structure to scale projects that allows us to expand access for patients across our health care system and beyond," Erskine said in a statement.

Partners HealthCare also plans to leverage the digital health program to streamline hospital operations by creating a unified approach to data management and use.

Some of the initial areas that will benefit from new data and analytics tools include hospital operations in bed capacity management, human resources, active asset management, supply chain and revenue cycle operations, according to Partners HealthCare executives.